Air-Raid Shelters in Germany

In Woman in Berlin, we see the story of a woman who is in an air-raid shelter in Germany. From the 1930s-on we saw a rise in above-ground shelters in Germany to protect against bombing during the war. The shelters were divided into two groups, Luftschutzhäuser (air-raid protection buildings) and Luftschutztürme (air-raid protection towers). The biggest difference between them is that the towers were round in design and the buildings were rectangular, more like traditional buildings.

Some of the buildings were built to be used for concentration camps and included things like “gas-tight doors”. The shelters were registered as a safety concern but most were instead used to gas people.

In the play, the shelter the woman is in is called a cave. This could be because the above ground shelters were made of stone and was often cold, wet and dark inside. There were also some shelters, particularly in Berlin, were below ground but they were not as popular. These would actually have tunnel entrances above ground that led to below ground shelters.

The German government was pressured by other leaders and citizens to build large shelters. These shelters, called hochbunkers were in the middle of cities and were often very tall, high-rise buildings that people were placed in during especially violent times.

These buildings were originally used during World War II. Because they were nearly indestructible, most of them have since been used for other purposes such as TV studios and field houses.